Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day
I've talked a bit about my many miscarriages, but after seeing a lot of posts about today being Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I wanted to bring the topic up again.
I remember being at a doctor appointment and mentioning the fact that we'd like to start trying to get pregnant. The doctor rambled through some information about prenatal vitamins and then finished the conversation with a comment about 25% of pregnancies ending in miscarriage, and to not be surprised if that happened at some point. He was really matter of fact, and it seemed really strange to me at the time. I was one of the first of my friends to start having kids, so this wasn't a topic that I'd ever heard anyone discuss. I brushed it off with a "that will never happen to me" kind of attitude and didn't think about it again. Fast forward a few months to my first pregnancy, where I thought everything was going as planned. I was 15 weeks along, in my second trimester, and we'd told people that I was pregnant. I woke up one morning to find that I was bleeding and went in the next day for an ultrasound. By then the bleeding had pretty much stopped, so my doctor and I were still thinking everything was fine. My doctor sent me in for an ultrasound anyway, and the next few days are really blurry. I knew at the ultrasound that something was wrong because they told me to go out and wait for the doctor to call me in. My doctor wasn't in, so I waited for someone I'd never met. I left the office knowing little more than that the baby was no longer alive and that I was having a miscarriage. That doctor didn't tell me anything other than "it happens" and that I should call my regular doctor the next day to schedule a D&C (I had no idea what that even meant). I had the D&C procedure a couple days later, was still given almost no information (and at the time I didn't even know what to ask), and was told to wait three months and then try again. I was 24 years old, healthy, and in good shape, so I really just wanted some sort of explanation. It wasn't until years later that I requested my medical records and upon reading them, was able to get a little bit more information about what had happened.
I took a week off of work after that, and upon returning found that no one had told anyone why I was gone. As if losing the baby wasn't bad enough, I then had explain to people over and over, that I'd lost the baby and was not pregnant anymore. This was my first experience with just how little this subject is spoken about. I kept a lot to myself over the next few years, until one day I couldn't take it anymore. I had a different blog back then and just suddenly sat down and wrote out my story. The huge amount of relief that I felt after getting that all out to everyone I knew was incredible. I had no idea just how much I was suffering by not talking about anything. I started to talk a lot with other girls who'd gone through the same thing, with people who hadn't and wanted to know how to handle the situation when it happened to someone they knew, etc. Eventually I found even more healing when I started volunteering for a non profit organization called Kids For Kyla, which gives grants to people trying to adopt or going through infertility treatments. The founders are friends of mine who went through their own difficult journey and then went on to help others.
I had the one miscarriage before having my son J, and then had four more before finally having my daughter R a month shy of J's 5th birthday. I know I've mentioned it before, but we had every kind of test done that the doctors could think of and everything always came back perfectly normal. Genetic testing, a few minor procedures, all sorts of things, but we never got any answers. They just kept telling us "you should be able to have another baby." In the beginning I got pregnant relatively quickly, but after awhile it started taking much longer. Emotionally, the hardest miscarriage I had was the fourth one I had after having J. It had taken me a year to get pregnant that time, and I was really hopeful because I'd made it to 9 weeks (which was farther than I had the few times before that). I think it was after that one that I finally started telling people what was going on. I couldn't take the comments from people about "you guys need to hurry up and have another one!" and "don't you think J needs a brother or sister?" After all of my experiences with that, I would never dream of asking someone if they are going to have a baby, or to tell them they should have more. You have no idea what people are going through, and there is nothing worse than hearing those things when you are struggling.
After years of telling my story, and talking to others about their experiences, I backtracked and stopped talking again. A few years ago we decided that we'd like to have another baby, but again that proved to be easier said than done. Due to my history, from the day I found out I was pregnant, they'd had me come in for blood work every 48 hours. At first things looked good, but then the numbers wouldn't go up the way they were supposed to, and then they would, and then they wouldn't. This dragged on for weeks, and the whole time I knew that things weren't ok. I had been through so many losses, and I started having a gut feeling on how things were going to go each time I got a positive pregnancy test . I can't really explain it, other than that when I found out I was pregnant with R, I just knew she was eventually going to be mine. I'd had the same feeling with J, and I've never had that with any other pregnancy. That was my sixth miscarriage and I went on with life without telling anyone other than my mom. A year or so later we tried again and had a similar situation, but I didn't tell people anything. After the seventh miscarriage I was emotionally and physically done. It was the first time I'd really ever felt that finality, but I knew I couldn't do it anymore. The relief I felt from that decision was remarkable.
Long story long right? I keep thinking I'll get to my point, but I keep thinking of more points. :) Miscarriages are unbelievably hard. They are hard to talk about, especially if you haven't even told people you are pregnant to begin with. I never could come up with how to start that conversation, so I just didn't. You don't just suffer through that one period in time. You see new babies born all the time, you pass due dates, things that you expected to be milestones for the baby, etc. It is all just hard, and awful, and it kills me when I hear of someone going through something I know all too well. This has been talked about a lot lately in social media, but I don't think it can be said enough. Mind your own business when it comes to other people and the fact that they haven't had kids at the "normal" time or frequency. If you know someone who has suffered a miscarriage, just give them a hug, tell them that you love them, and just be there for them. Do not, and I repeat, do not say "everything happens for a reason" or "it is probably for the best" or "you can try again!" If you say these things, don't be surprised if someone eventually punches you in the face. I had to hold myself back too many times to count.
While it was incredibly difficult, looking back, I can't say that I'd change my situation. My family wouldn't be what it is now, if I didn't go through everything I did. I have a son and a daughter who fill up my life, and they are here because the others weren't able to be here with me. I will always remember and hold a special place in my heart for those babies, but it is because of them that I have my babies here to hug every day.